Culture Hack

Culture Hack

How Lack of Representation is Connected to Cultural Appropriation

At the end of May, Kendall Jenner officially launched her tequila brand to the public after months of teasing fans with her latest business endeavor. Though Jenner is not the first celebrity to enter the world of alcohol brands, she did take the concept a step further by putting out three different types of tequila, creating merch to go along with the products, and a promotional video that depicts Jenner being involved in the process of making her tequila. And while some of the 25-year-old model’s following is excited for this new product, most feel like she is contributing to the exploitation and appropriation of a culture whose worth goes beyond a bottle of alcohol. But Jenner isn’t the only one and alcohol isn’t the only product. 

The culture of many marginalized communities has been setting trends for popular culture for years. Whether it be the rise of hip hop music and aesthetics in the late 1980s or the influence of Latinx music in the 2010s, people of color have been setting the tone for the general culture yet have never received the full recognition they deserve. And though this has been an issue for years, society is just now acknowledging that it exists.

According to Statista, only 6.8% of Oscar winners were minorities.

Some of the more recent actions against the lack of recognition when it comes to marginalized groups’ contributions to culture have included NBC’s cancellation of the Golden Globes after reports of exclusion and an increase in the support of minority-owned, authentic businesses. But is this enough? Will this actually make up for the decades of appropriation and the diminishment of cultural value? Simply put, minority communities deserve more. They want the security of recognition for future generations and to succeed in ways that their white counterparts have been all along and for their culture to be done accurately and honorably. 

Making up for previous faults in representation and inclusion can ultimately come in one form: creating the space for minority groups and their cultures to be celebrated correctly. Older institutions that have been corrupted with societal racism will take much longer than desired to reverse their previous ways. In the meantime, we need to provide these spaces for marginalized individuals and we need to commit to uplifting them at all costs. 

Though one may feel drawn to support Jenner’s tequila, they should make an effort to find and support Mexican-owned brands instead. Lovers of hip hop should prioritize supporting Black artists who are continuing the genre’s culture for their predecessors. TV and Film fans should fight for BIPOC creators to earn the recognition they deserve. While systemic racism has taken many opportunities for earning credit away from marginalized groups, we all have the power to give credit where it is deserved and to learn about other cultures authentically and from a source of authority.